Use up my yeast!
April 6, 2010 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Besides baking absurd amounts of bread, how can I use up 6oz of Fresh Bakers Yeast before it expires on 4/12/2010?

I've used up 4oz of fresh yeast over the past week baking for Easter and going crazy experimenting with bread. Now I've got 6oz of yeast to use up before it expires. It's currently living in my fridge, in a sealed ZipLock bag. (for reference, about 1oz produces 2 loaves of sandwich bread)

I still have 1.5 loaves of bread to eat, and really, I never eat this much bread ever- I've been having sandwiches three times a day at this point, and forcing toast upon anyone who visits me. I've got a huge amount of breadcrumbs and I've got a decent stockpile of croutons. Additionally, while I likelove baking, I'm in crunch time at work, and don't foresee having the time/energy to bake bread every night when I come home. (although if there's an AWESOME recipe that I need to try, I would make the effort)

Please let me know of any recipes that can use this up!

or alternatively, how long past the expiration date can I store fresh yeast and have it remain usable? The internet appears to disagree upon how freezing affects it.

Anecdotes/hilarious stories most welcome.
posted by larthegreat to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's not going to self-destruct on the 12th, so why make a bunch of stuff that you won't be able to eat before it spoils?

Yeast that's past its freshness date is often still perfectly viable. You'll just want to proof it first.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:53 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

yeah, don't panic. Just use it up over the next few months and it'll likely be just fine.
posted by edgeways at 4:58 PM on April 6, 2010

Wont use up much but you can make Ginger Ale at home
posted by Captain_Science at 4:59 PM on April 6, 2010

I freeze yeast. Thawed out it works pretty well. Worth a shot if you still have some left over.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:01 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've used yeast that was a few years past the date on the envelope but stored in the fridge. Worked fine. Don't panic, just stick it in the fridge and resume normal yeast consumption methods.
posted by chairface at 5:11 PM on April 6, 2010

Best answer: chairface: I've used yeast that was a few years past the date on the envelope but stored in the fridge. Worked fine. Don't panic, just stick it in the fridge and resume normal yeast consumption methods.

You say "envelope" so that makes me think you were probably using active dry yeast of some variety. There's an important distinction between active dry/instant yeasts and fresh yeast -- active dry yeasts are little yeast granules which are composed of little clumps of live yeast surrounded by dead yeast cells, which helps make them shelf stable. They can generally last much longer than fresh yeast, which must be kept refrigerated.

So unless the OP corrects me and says that they are using an enormous thing of instant or active dry yeast, I'm going to second mudpuppie's recommendation. The yeast will not explode, but you'll want to make sure that it's still alive before you commit to using it in a recipe.
posted by malthas at 5:18 PM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you feel like you can spare the time, frozen pizza dough is great. Not balls of dough but actual pizza pie shells. You go through the process of making the dough, section it into 6 or so pieces, stretch and shape them, and parbake each for five minutes at 500 degrees. Then you can cool them and freeze them, and whenever you feel like it you can make a really good pizza without much fuss--top as you like, leaving the shells frozen, and bake at 500 degrees for ten minutes.

Alternately, you can ignore the expiration date, which is probably fine, or you can chuck it.

Frozen pizza shells are really nice to have in the freezer, though. Here's my tip on pizza dough, having really exhausted this avenue of research -- if it's slightly (slightly!) wet and tacky, you can stretch it to make a thin, crisp pizza. If your preference is for breadier crusts, you add a little extra flour until you have a drier, smooth dough.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:18 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best before dates on most items are there for a number of reasons - for example:
- because they're expected to be there;
- because it limits a manufacturers liability to accept returns;
- because some foods, when they go bad, can make you ill.

Yeast doesn't go bad, not in "make you ill" sense. If your bread fails to rise, then your yeast is past its best before date - just like if your milk is sour, its past its best before date.

Stop being victims to some arbitrary date printed on the sides of packaging!
posted by neksys at 5:20 PM on April 6, 2010

Best before does not equal use by. Best before in this case is mostly just an indication of potency. Keep it in the fridge, you'll probably be fine. My instant yeast survived in the freezer for many years.
posted by wilful at 5:53 PM on April 6, 2010

Response by poster: As stated, it's not instant or active dry yeast, it's bakers fresh yeast. It's a smushy paste used by commercial bakers (and incidentally is AWESOME to bake with), but it only keeps for a few weeks, before becoming useless. I've just never had so much of it on hand....

Keep the suggestions coming, and I'll just keep proofing the yeast before baking (I use a Biga or Poolish base for my breads anyways.)
posted by larthegreat at 6:06 PM on April 6, 2010

You share it with me. Passover is over and I might want to make challah.

Alternatively, this recipe for lemon sticky buns looks intriguing.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:45 PM on April 6, 2010

Sweeter items like brioche or Gugelhupf might be options, if your experiments haven't taken you in those directions already.
posted by gimonca at 6:49 PM on April 6, 2010

I'd second pizza dough. It freezes and thaws really nicely, if you thaw it slowly in the fridge.

Bake fresh bread, cool it completely and then freeze it for later. Give a bunch of baked goods to friends and neighbors.

You can definitely freeze fresh yeast (I'd suggest breaking it into smaller portions before doing so). It may take longer for it to proof when you use it, but it should be fine.

I am not your pastry chef but I am a pastry chef.
posted by cooker girl at 6:54 PM on April 6, 2010

I know it's already been said, but I have to chime in with pizza dough.

I've made Peter Reinhart's Pizza Napoletana several times and had great success with freezing the raw dough. His instructions are ambiguous, but freezing can take place before or after the slow refrigerator ferment. I take the balls, put some oil in a baggie, roll the ball around, and pop it in the freezer. The morning before you want pizza, put the baggies in the fridge. When you get home from work, or about and hour before dinner, heavily flour your counter, and plop the balls on top. If they're not already flat, squish 'em down a bit into 5 or 6 inch disks. Let them hang out for an hour (or until room temp), then shape, top and bake.

You could also apply the same principle to sandwich or enriched bread. (I think a bit of fat helps with freezing). Portion a big batch of something like Reinhart's Light wheat bread into 2 lb loaves, or 4 oz dinner rolls. (or both!) Stop the recipe after shaping, and before the final rise. Baggies and oil will keep the dough from drying out. Then, just plop the bread into your loaf pan and let proof till it crests.
posted by fontophilic at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2010

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